Elizabeth and Bill met on the 13 Ugly Men's Gasparilla parade float and went on a series of Bachelor worthy dates.
“Bill got my number from a friend and the next day invited me to go sailboating with him. I asked him if he owned the boat, named the Happy Ending, as I was worried I'd be stuck on a boat with a bunch of random dudes, and he quickly responded that it was ‘pretty much his.' I showed up to the Davis Islands Yacht Club and was floored to see a 40-foot sailboat with Bill preparing the sails. Ten minutes later, a nice man walked up and introduced himself as the boat owner. My head snapped over to Bill and he gave me a really guilty smile and shrugged,” Elizabeth explained. “I just couldn't be mad at him and was so flattered that he wanted to impress me so much. Bill mentioned later that he was a flight instructor at Peter O. Knight Airport and that he’d like to take me flying, to which I thought ‘yeah right, likely story!' The next weekend though he flew me to Venice, FL for our first ‘real date' and the rest is history!”
Four years later Bill surprised Elizabeth with an early morning birthday proposal.
“I woke up to Bill fumbling for my hand. He found my hand (I was sleeping on top of it!) and asked me to marry him. I was completely stunned and said ‘Are you serious?!'” Elizabeth reminisced. “Eventually I said ‘Yes, of course!' and was rewarded with a mimosa and breakfast in bed! Bill told me he wanted to propose in the morning because he knows how much I hate mornings and wanted me to have a good day.”
The couple celebrated their engagement with a flight to Key West, piloted by the groom-to-be.
“Once we were in Key West I was surprised to see my best friend, who lives in Dallas, TX, there to celebrate with us. Bill had arranged for her to be there too. It was the best birthday I have ever had!” Elizabeth added.
Since flying is a huge part of Bill's life and one of their first dates took place on a plane, it was only fitting that the Tampa couple marry at Tampa wedding venue Peter O. Knight Airport.
“The venue incorporated so much of our history as a couple. It was the closest thing to having a backyard wedding for us,” Elizabeth shared. “It was also a beautiful view of downtown Tampa and the Bay. There was no better location to have our wedding reception than the place that we started our relationship.”
To incorporate Bill's midwestern roots and Elizabeth's southern upbringing, the couple offered a Taste of the South shrimp and grits food station and a Taste of the Midwest bar, featuring brisket and potatoes.
“Bill and I jokingly describe our theme as ‘Romantic southern girl meets Kansas trains, planes, and automobiles,'” the bride said. “'Love is in the air' was on our Save the Date postcard with a picture of us on the runway.”
“I wanted a soft, feminine and romantic feel, but wanted to make sure that Bill was reflected too,” Elizabeth explained. “I chose those colors because I wanted a classic and elegant look that brought a feminine and soft touch to the large hanger. I wanted our guests to feel like they were in a ballroom even though they were in an airplane hangar.”
With such a large blank canvas to decorate, Elizabeth entrusted Tampa wedding florist Apple Blossoms Floral Design to make her wedding day unforgettable.
“I wanted a wedding florist that I had good chemistry with that would actually listen to me and that I felt comfortable being ‘real' with. As soon as I met Scott at Apple Blossoms I knew that he was going to be my wedding florist. He actually sat down with me for hours to fully understand what I wanted, the types of flowers that might be available for a November wedding and so forth. I really felt that I could trust him to make my vision a reality without me needing to be overly involved,” the bride shared. “I absolutely love going into the Apple Blossoms store and buying flowers for our home now; they know exactly the types of flowers I like and are so personable.”
Looking back, one of Elizabeth's most memorable moments occurred as she arrived for her first look with Bill.
“I was so nervous and couldn't stop tearing up; it was so surreal that I was going to see Bill in a wedding dress!” Elizabeth gushed.
The vintage car is actually Bill’s dad’s first car that he rebuilt. It is a car that Bill and his dad both love and it was an honor to have it as part of our wedding day! – The Bride
Our guests had fun checking out all the different planes and jets and we had so much space to party down in the hangar. The airport turned on all the runway lights for us and it had such a fun and special atmosphere. – The Bride
I wanted a wedding florist that I had good chemistry with that would actually listen to me and that I felt comfortable being “real” with. As soon as I met Scott at Apple Blossoms I knew that he was going to be my wedding florist. He actually sat down with me for hours to fully understand what I wanted, the types of flowers that might be available for a November wedding, and so forth. I really felt that I could trust him to make my vision a reality. – The Bride
Everyone was shocked when we had a choreographed dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”. We actually enjoyed taking dance lessons so much that we have continued taking dance lessons every week. – The Bride
Near the end of our reception, Bill jumped on stage to thank all our guest for coming and said that had he known four years earlier, when he first took me on a date flying, what was to come, that he'd have asked me to marry him four years earlier. It was one the sweetest things anyone has ever said about me and I think truly captures the significance the airport has had for us. – The Bride
Our wedding exit was in a Cessna 421 twin engine. At the end of our reception, we jumped on the plane and flew to St. Pete to stay at the Don CeSar for the night. It was truly a fairy tale ending. The pilot even buzzed the airport so we could look down and see our guests waving up to us. – The Bride
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay Brides?
A wedding is not just about you and what you've always dreamed of for your wedding day. The sooner you accept this – the fewer problems you’ll have down the line.
A wedding is what your parents have dreamed of for you, what your fiancé has dreamed of for him, what his family has dreamed of for him, and what your friends expect from you. Everyone has different expectations of what a wedding/reception should and should not be, how you should act, what it looks like, what you do at it, and so much more. I recommend trying to get everyone’s expectations and thoughts of what is normal for a wedding out on the table as soon as you can! Then compromise on the things you can give on and stand your ground on the things you can’t.
Tampa Wedding Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Tampa Wedding Reception Venue: Peter O. Knight Airport
Tampa Wedding Photographer: Ryan Joseph Photographs
Tampa Wedding Videographer: Indie Atlantic Films
Tampa Wedding Planner: One Fine Day, Inc.
Tampa Wedding Florist: Apple Blossoms Floral Design
Tampa Wedding Caterer: Good Food Catering
Tampa Wedding Dance Floor & Stage: PKS Rentals
Tampa Wedding Lighting: Tampa Lights
Tampa Wedding Limo: Ambassador Limo
Tampa Wedding Invitations: The Write Stuff
Tampa Wedding Calligraphy: Kirby Wilson
Tampa Wedding Logo Design: Pop Design Group
Tampa Wedding Cake: Chocolate Pi
Tampa Wedding Band: All the Answers
Tampa Wedding Groomsmen Suits: Men's Wearhouse
Tampa Wedding Hair & Makeup: Colours by Linny (for Bride) and Aimee O'Neil
Tampa Wedding First Dance Choreography: Libreros Dance Studio
Tampa Honeymoon Travel: Avanti Travel – Della Gillum
We are proud to have Apple Blossom Floral Designs as a Marry Me Tampa Bay sponsor!